By Baba Sillah
The Commission of Inquiry set up by the state to investigate the financial dealings of former President Yahya Jammeh, his close associates and family members began sittings yesterday at Djembe Beach Hotel, Kololi.
Four witnesses were summoned, among them managing directors Bolaji Ayodele and Momodou Musa of Guaranty Trust Bank and First International Bank, Gambia Revenue Authority commissioner general Yankuba Darboe and head of corporate department at Trust Bank Babou Awe.
In his evidence, GTBank’s Ayodele explained the financial transactions and accounts of Alhamdulillah Petroleum And Mining Company (APAM).
He said the company opened a dollar and a dalasi account in August 2015 by Ansumana Jammeh. Isatou Sallah was later added as a signatory and Toni Ghattas on 3 October 2015.
He revealed that the accounts were closed in February 2017 upon receipt of a letter.
Mr Ayodele further told the commission that D61, 369, 621.77 was deposited into the account and D61, 179. 270.22 withdrawn. He said there was an overdraft facility. He also said USD$660,377.45 was paid into the dollar account and that he will furnish the commission with the details of the withdrawals at a later date.
Next to appear was FiBank’s Mr Musa. He said the APAM dalasi and dollar accounts were opened in November 2015 by ‘Woreh’ Njie and Toni Ghattas before they were closed in January 2017.
He recalled that a total amount of D13.7 million was deposited while D13.4 million was withdrawn. On the dollar account, he said USD$27,000.4 was deposited while USD$25,820 and USD$ 1200 were also deposited on November 28, 2016 and withdrawn the following date.
Yankuba Darboe of GRA said a tax commission set by government was later transformed into a task force set up by a presidential directive.
Commissioner General Darboe recalled that accounts were opened at the GTBank and Trust Bank but that he neither knew who opened them nor who were the signatories and how monies were withdrawn.
He testified that GRA maintains an international account and a domestic account at the Central Bank. Darboe finally told the commission that they have arrangements with some commercial banks for receipt of GRA tax payments.
Next to be called was Babou Awe, head of corporate department, Trust Bank Limited who requested time from the commission as he was not in the position to answer certain questions. However he was questioned based on the documents available to him at the time.
He said he has the statement of Tax Recovery Account dated 17 September 2013 to 5 April 2017. It was tendered by counsel Amie Bensouda.
Asked whether there were various payments made to Competent Company, Sheriff Sawaneh, he said a cheque for D1, 947, 346 was transacted by Sawaneh but he could not recall the purpose of the transaction.
He further testified that D730, 250 and D4, 485, 000 were transacted by Mr Sawaneh on 8 October 2013. However when further asked about the bank account of Ansumana Tamba, he said he had no knowledge of Mr Tamba’s bank account.
Mr Awe recalled that there was a transaction between Event Planning & Management dated 14 May 2014 with regard to the President’s Office Tax Recovery Account to EPM credit account. He also disclosed that Foni Carpentry and Construction Company opened an account on 19 May 2015 with an amount of D974, 070 and D417, 175.
All the financial transactions and statements from these various companies were admitted as defence exhibits.
Sitting continues August 14 and will last for three months according to the officials of the commission and will look into all the financial dealings of the former President Jammeh his close associates and family members. The general public is urged to comply with the orders of the commission as they are legally constituted by the President, the chairman of the commission, Sourahata Janneh stated in his opening remark.